The US SIF Foundation announced the launch of a free introductory online course designed for investors who want to learn the basics of sustainable investing. The course is designed for retail investors, providing a brief overview of the development of sustainable investing and summarizing the investment options and strategies available for investors.

The US SIF Foundation is the supporter of US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. US SIF is a collaborative network of asset management and advisory firms, representing over $3 trillion in AUM, committed to investment practices that consider ESG criteria in order to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact.

The new course is part of a suite of educational initiatives run by the foundation, including an online course on the “Fundamentals of Sustainable and Impact Investment for financial advisers. The foundation also offers the only professional financial services designation for sustainable investing in the US, in conjunction with the College of Financial Planning.

Lisa Woll, CEO of the US SIF Foundation and US SIF said:

“In order to fully carry out our mission of advancing sustainable investing, we need to empower individual investors with the baseline knowledge to differentiate between conventional and sustainable investments. We believe this course gives them the tools to do so.

“This is an excellent time for individual investors to take the course,” said Michael Young, Manager of Education Programs at the US SIF Foundation. “As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, many retail investors are looking for positive and productive ways to spend time under the various levels of quarantine they are undergoing. What’s more, interest in sustainable investing continues to grow as investors are more aware than ever of the social and environmental impacts that money can have.”

According to US SIF, the new course was conceived during a 2019 roundtable organized by the US SIF Foundation and with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, discussing increasing investor participation in sustainable investing. The roundtable identified lack of basic knowledge about sustainable investing as one of the key barriers for investors, and the course was subsequently designed to help address this issue, and to enable investors to engage in conversations about sustainable investment options with financial advisors. 

The course is designed to take 30 minutes to complete, and was developed by US SIF Foundation staff, with input from US SIF member firms. The modules in the course include:

Module 1: What is Sustainable Investing?

Module 2: Investment Options

  • Individual stocks
  • Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds
  • Retirement accounts
  • Community-oriented cash and fixed income products

Module 3: Next Steps

  • Professional investment advice
  • Make an impact in your community
  • Resources


  • Let’s test your knowledge
  • Action items

Adam Connaker, Principal, Innovative Finance at The Rockefeller Foundation said:

“Foundations, family offices and high net worth individuals are increasingly interested in investing for impact and have an array of advisory services and other resources to assist them in this regard. In contrast, there have been few resources until now for retail investors—who are a key part of growing assets in sustainable and impact investing. We therefore are happy to support and congratulate the US SIF Foundation for developing this free course for retail investors. We believe it will further accelerate the growth of sustainable investment.”